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Organic Gardening Class Newsletter January 3, 2010

Yes, there will be a new series of Organic Gardening Classes starting Sunday January 24 at 1:30 at the Chico Grange Hall. We are still in the process of contacting the presenters, so we will email the list of presenters and topics to you in a few days. The class will meet on 6 consecutive Sundays:  January 24, January 31, February 7, February 14, February 21, and February 28. As some of you know, it was a tremendous amount of work to organize and present the classes last year. I am pleased to announce that this year Hazel Van Evera will be handling most of the arrangements. I will be doing more of the presenting, and interviewing some of the presenters, like the session with Jimi Logsden about backyard farming with chickens. We will be presenting the information in a straightforward way so that new gardeners can get what they need to know to plant their first garden, and the experts who are presenting will be sharing tips that will be helpful to even the most experienced members of the class.

Gardening Tips:  That frost in December hit my citrus pretty hard. Lost all the fruit, and had quite a bit of dieback on the oranges, and the youngest Meyer Lemons. The Kaffir Lime may have been killed outright. Ouch! If your citrus fared better, please email me your secrets. By the way, we are looking for a presenter on Citrus, and one on beekeeping. Let me know if you have any leads. Kumquats, Satsuma Mandarins, and Meyer Lemons seem to be the most frost hardy in our climate. If you can find trees in 3 to 5 gallon containers, I think planting now is better than waiting until spring. I don't recommend the smaller sleeve type pots of citrus.

It is time to plant onion plants if you haven't already, It is not too late in January, and you can get a small crop even with a February transplanting. You may find plants at the Farmers' Market or at local feed stores.  If you want to grow them from seed next year, the time to plant seed is in July or August. Jerry Bonds, the master who taught me how to grow onions will be one of our presenters, and he will be answering questions on onions, potatoes, melons, corn and more. Jerry started growing as a boy and he is one of the best gardeners I have ever met. Not to be missed.

There is bound to be a "planting window" coming up sometime in February. We get some warm dry days, and if you are ready, it is an ideal time to plant spinach, beets, lettuce, peas, salad mix, arugula, radishes. But you need to plan ahead. Prepare your ground as soon as it is dry enough to work without causing compaction. Go online or get on the phone and order seed catalogs, or just order online. You can plant carrots, but they won't be as sweet and tasty as summer planted winter carrots like Matt Martin has at the Farmers' Market. February is also a good time to plant tomato seeds in flats for early April transplanting. Come to the class for the details on how to start your own transplants.

If you have a winter garden growing, keep harvesting carrots, lettuce, spinach beets, kale, broccoli, etc. No winter garden this year? How about planning to do one this year. It is a good idea to plan your planting for succession and rotation. I have to say my carrots have been my biggest success this winter. The broccoli I planted yielded absolutely delicious shoots, but no large heads. They are supposed to produce a lot of small side shoots, so the jury is out on whether De Ciccio is a good variety for my garden. If you have favorite varieties of vegetables or fruits, please email me the details. We will compile a list for our local climate. Details like where you got the seed, planting dates, harvest dates, spacing you used would all be helpful.

Keep gardening! It is one of the best things we can do for planetary healing. It's a lot of fun too.

David Grau

Valley Oak Tool Company
P.O. Box 301
Chico  CA   95927
telephone 530-342-6188